By The Editor
A new way of operating businesses, labelled the ROWE concept, for Results Only Working Environment, is gaining popularity, and turns the traditional business management model on its head.
The ROWE method was pioneered in the United States a few years ago by a couple of managers at a business named Best Buy, a leading electronics retailer. Their premise was simple in theory – they would throw out all the rules about ‘9 to 5’ workdays and judge performance solely on what employees achieved results-wise.
Under ROWE, an employee could arrive or leave at any time of the day, work at the office or remotely, and spend time working on nights and weekends instead if it suited them.
Since implementing ROWE, productivity has risen at Best Buy and employee turnover has fallen sharply. The method has since been implemented at other companies and is being championed by others, including Matt Leeburn, CEO of Melbourne business Interaction Dynamics.
Leeburn told The Age he adopted the concept of ROWE purely incidentally, and believes it allows individual employees to choose the most efficient way for them to work.
“Rather than having to catch this fabulous Melbourne transport to work every morning to come into the office, you can get up a little later because you might work better in the afternoon or the night,” he said.
Leeburn argues that ROWE completely removes the need for middle managers and endless meetings, and encourages individual responsibility in the workplace.
“If you start allowing your best performers or your best talents to actually separate themselves out and actually start performing in the environment that allows them to be most efficient you essentially cut them away from all of the excess meetings that they don’t need to attend,” he said.
Skeptics of the ROWE method argue that without oversight from managers in an office environment, employees may lack the advice or motivation to complete work. But Eric Severson, vice president of HR at Gap Outlet, which implemented ROWE, believes it has the opposite effect – because employees highly value the flexibility ROWE affords, they will go the extra mile to get the results required, and less supportive of anyone else letting down the team.
Leeburn says it’s obvious ROWE isn’t meant for some types of companies or industries – retail for example is very much bound by shopping hours. But he believes it could be very much suited to creative businesses and those with limited direct contact with customers and clients.
ROWE is still very much in its infancy, and it will be fascinating to see if more businesses adopt this model in the future.
Do you think the ROWE model should be implemented in more businesses, or is it just a passing fad? We’re keen to hear your views!